Category Archives: Workshop

Writing tips, prompts, craft exercises, and more

RESOURCES

Over time, Wadadli Pen has added a fair amount of writing and publishing information – from interviews with authors and publishers, to the reading rooms, to the opportunities pages (technically posts not pages). This post-not-page is something slightly different, though there’ll probably be a bit of overlap. Like the reading room, and opportunities and opportunities too page/post with pending deadlines (which you can use the search box to find if the links don’t work), it will be updated from time to time; its purpose is to gather and share information related to publishing that writers need to know – information that too many of us have to learn the hard way. Hope you find it useful on your writing and publishing journey.  Also visit the Writer’s Toolbox. Disclaimer: We don’t take responsibility for the information provided on any of the linked sites. Remember, do your own due diligence and seek the advice of an agent and/or lawyer if you can.

Authors – Getting Paid

11 Frequently Asked Questions about Book Royalties, Advances and Money

The ABCs of School Visits with an Independent Bookstore Some good tips here but worth remembering that we live in the Caribbean where the gumption of an author asking to be paid for school visits (in any form) is often met by a … huh? (and likely some behind-the-back grumbling about the author lacking community spirit). These posts are however a reminder to value what you do (give what time you can and/or choose to, of course, but don’t let anyone shame you for valuing what you do or for not giving what you cannot or can no longer afford to give). Shift the paradigm.

Festival Appearances – Guidance for Authors (UK specific but the principles, especially the breakdown re why authors should be paid, applies to authors everywhere)

How to Set Your Speaking Fees

Rate Guide for Authors

School and Library visits – a Guide

Copyright

10 common—and crucial—copyright questions for communicators

Antigua and Barbuda Intellectual Property and Commerce Office

Basic Copyright Concepts for Writers

Carib Export webinar
“Don’t assume, ever…definitely register your copyright, definitely sign a split sheet if you’re collaborating with anyone.”

Copyright Information for Writers

Following Copyright Law while Blogging 

The Fuss about Fair Use

Permission Guidelines for Using Copyrighted Material

Publication Rights for Freelance Article Writers

Two Easy Steps for Using the DMCA Takedown Notice to Battle Copyright Infringement

A Writer’s Guide to Permissions and Fair Use

On the Hustle – Tips for Freelance Writers

“One thing to keep in mind: Once you’ve been published …, it is almost always worth sending them more ideas, even if they don’t ask for them. You’ve already started the relationship with them, and they know you as a writer, so they are more likely to give your queries consideration.” – How to Write and Get Paid: 11 Cases of Freelance Writing Success edited by Jacob Jans (don’t have a link but worth sharing)

7 Contract Stipulations All Freelancers Should Know About

7 Nudges to work in to your query letters

7 Things You Must Do To Survive A Recession As A Freelancer including
1. Prioritize adding income over cutting expenses
Your first reaction to a big drop in income may be to cut back your expenses. That’s not wrong, but it’s more important to focus on bringing in more work. If you already live frugally, as many freelancers do, there’s only so much you can eliminate from your budget. Earn more and you won’t have to cut as much. When you have a good month—and you will, even in a downturn—save as much as you can to improve your cash flow for the next month. We could devote an entire article to getting more work. But a few ways to expand your roster of clients is to ask your current editors to connect you with their colleagues, update your online portfolios and social media pages, scour freelance job boards, and keep an eye on social media for calls for pitches.

7 Ways to get paid on time as a Freelancer

5 Red Flags to look for in a Contract

5 Tips for Aspiring Features Writers

31 Ways to Freelance Yourself to Financial Freedom

A Smarter Way to Price Freelance Projects 

Buying Yourself Time

Case Study: How I Get Paid $100 a Week to Write Rants About Video Games

Case Study: Collecting overdue payments and holding clients accountable

Content Syndication

“Find your minimum…and charge no less than that. If someone comes to you and says ‘…can you go lower?’ just say no… If you’re getting a lot of low paying work, you just need to learn to say ‘no’ more…You are worth a certain rate as a writer and when you go below that you are undervaluing yourself and as a result that paints the wrong picture of you to your clients.” Very good webinar on navigating the freelancing life.

“As a writer, you set the bar for acceptable pay. Don’t settle for less than you deserve and look for opportunities to upsell your services.” – Five Ways to Upsell Your Writing Services

Freelance Fees (insights to how freelancers charge)

How not to Pitch Editors

How to become a Professional Ghost Writer

How to Market Yourself without selling Your Soul

‘While coaching me and my almost exclusively female classmates, Brodesser-Akner declared the following: “Always ask for more money!” It was a habit she’d developed after noticing that men did it all the time, without thinking twice about it. People respect you more for knowing what you’re worth, she told us.’ – How to negotiate your rate like a pro

How much should book editors charge (or, if you’re looking to hire a book editor, how much should you expect to pay)

How much should I charge for freelance writing services

How much should I charge for freelance writing services

If the client doesn’t budge, it might be time to walk. Being forced to find new clients is often a blessing in disguise—especially if you take it as an opportunity to level up.”

“If you’re still a little unsure of your abilities, keep telling yourself that you have skills and experience that people are prepared to pay for. You’ve been invited to a meeting for a reason. You’ve won their approval thus far; you now just need to bring home the business by impressing them face-to-face.” – Learning how to sell yourself: how to win over a new client during a pitch by Katy Cowan

Landing Clients

“Most freelancers spend about 30 percent of their time completing non-billable work like pitching, researching, interviewing, responding to emails, marketing, networking, and invoicing…That means an eight-hour workday only leaves you with about five billable hours. So when finding your own rate, be realistic with what you can charge and how many hours in the week you can work.” – Rates

Negotiating tips

Rates (a sample of some freelance publication rates)

“So be bold. Go after the writing you want, keep yourself at the forefront of editors’ minds, ask for fair compensation, and see what happens!” – Reminder to Be Bold when pitching

Should You write a Free Sample to get a Freelance Writing Gig?

Spotting Writing Scams

Tapping in to local business

“The time you spend working for clients who underpay or don’t appreciate you is better spent seeking great clients who love you, understand your value, and pay appropriately.” – Carol Tice

Troubleshooting not getting Paid as a Freelancer

The Ultimate Guide to Recurring Income for Freelancers

What to do about freelance writing when you update your resume

What to do at every stage of a late payment

What to do when asked to give away your work

When they don’t pay

When your publisher goes out of business

When your editor ghosts you

‘While coaching me and my almost exclusively female classmates, Brodesser-Akner declared the following: “Always ask for more money!”’ – from How to negotiate like a Pro.

Why what you write matters more than where you publish

Writing for others – what to charge

Publishing – Books

The 10 Most Common Manuscript Submission Mistakes

An Author’s Guide to Praise and Endorsement Best Practices

The Best Advice I can offer- on getting published

The Best Advice I can offer – Fear of Being Edited

Carly Watters – Literary Agent Blog – I’m sharing this here because I don’t really have an agents’ blog on this site but I find, just perusing her comments section that she’s quite responsive and has some insights about the industry that might be useful, whichever agent you pitch.

Caribbean Writers Discuss Publishing – Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Rights

Don’t Fall Prey to Publishing Scams: 7 New Writer Mistakes to Avoid

Everything You ever wanted to know about Book Sales

GATE opens a window to the world of e-publishing

Guidelines for formatting your manuscript before submission and more guidelines BUT remember to check the publisher website for any guidelines specific to her.

How I got my literary agent – part 1, part 2, and part 3 by Barbadian author Shakirah Bourne,

How to get published

“I highly recommend a professional editor such as Joanne Hillhouse (jhohadli.wordpress.com/writing-editing-coaching-services/) or Virginia Hampton (hampton.virginia19@gmail.com) who have provided excellent service to me and other writers in Belize and abroad.” – Belizean writer Ivory Kelly in an article providing publishing tips for authors in Belize which authors in the wider Caribbean and beyond may find a useful resource

Negotiating an e-book contract

Nine Ways to a Faster Book Deal

The Pros and Cons of Book Awards

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing

Publishing 101 with Eugenia O’Neal

Publishing an Ebook

Publishing Contracts 101 (Protect Your Work)

Publishing-related

Query letter – tips 

Self-Publishing Conference 2019 Materials

Ten Principles of Fair Contracts

Vetting an Independent Editor

What to do When Your Book goes Out of Print

Why You need an Author Platform – and How to get One

Why your blog is your best promotional source

Publishing – Journals, Anthologies

Formatting manuscripts for submission

The Legal Side of Writing for Anthologies

Submitting Something Somewhere: Things to Consider

Publishing – Promotion

10 Ways to blog Your Books to increase Sales without being Pushy or Annoying

The Art of Publicity: How Indie Publicists Work With Writers

The Best Advice I can offer – Increasing Exposure

Book Marketing Mistakes

Connecting with Readers

“Don’t make the mistake of just replicating your content across platforms.” – Tips for Better Social Media Marketing

How to Tame the Social Media Beast (a primer for writers on the use of social media as a promotional tool)

“Consider the topic being more than about the book’s release, and instead more about the impact of the book, a strange intriguing fact about how the book came about, how the book meets an urgent need, how a famous/semi-famous person reviewed your book and what they thought. In other words, the book isn’t the news…something else amazing related to the book is.” – Press Releases: a Blast from the Past by Greta Burroughs

Reaching Readers – Blog Tour Magic

Social Media Playbook for Authors!

What Facebook’s 2018 Change Means for Authors

You and Your Wiki – Caribbean Writers Edition

Writing

Bad Habits

It’s not about how fast you write but how well

On Writing Dialogue

Three Plot Structures

Classes, Services (Writing and Publishing) – short sample limited to people who have had some connection with Antigua and Barbuda and especially Wadadli Pen

Joanne C. Hillhouse

Marita Golden

Professional Writing/Writing-related Services (Antigua and Barbuda)

Xtras

10 Things Every Blogger Should Know About Working With Brands

About your e-signature and how to utilize it as a marketing tool

Caribbean Literary Resources

Design Tips for Non Designers: 8 Dos and Donts

Dis ‘n Dat

Dominican writer Lisa Latouche talks about the road to the MFA programme in one, two parts (inspiration)

Grants and Artists-in-Residences are Awesome Opportunities

Guidance Sheet re Recording and Sharing Author Archives – Guidance sheet recordkeeping and transferring archives – “Authors should take time to ensure that they make the right choice of archive service for donation or deposit, and this may require a period of negotiation and discussion. It is important that there is sympathy and synergy between the author’s collection and the archival institution which will be responsible for its care and promotion. Seeking to change archive service once the process is underway can be a difficult process.”

How to do a Live interview on YouTube (You Tube Live with 2+ People) + How to Livestream on You Tube (Complete Beginners’ Guide)– for other tech challenged authors. I linked those two links because of their comprehensive presentation of the options but I found Sara Nguyen’s videos particular helpful for novices though more narrowly focused on comparisons between two browser platforms and a slow walk through one of those. This article might also prove helpful.

How to Hire a Skilled Editor and What You’ll Pay (because some writers really do need to consider what’s involved before pushing back on the rates – negotiating is fine, disrespect and derision is not) – rates and reasons vary but this isn’t a bad guide

How to lose a third of a million dollars without really trying – a lot of this may feel like another world (every author isn’t getting advances of this size, for one) but posting just as a cautionary tale for any writer trying to navigate the publishing world (because it can be very confusing)

How YouTubers get paid

Joanne C. Hillhouse’s musings on Writing and Publishing

The Literary Diaspora

On merchandising fictional characters – a legal primer

Presentation tips from a puppet

This writer says, be professional and do your own research before asking (i.e. respect another writer or editor’s time – which is not to say, don’t ask, but do your leg work)

Writing and Writing-and-Publishing related services (including illustrations, editing, formatting, and more) in Antigua and Barbuda

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen, my books, and my freelance writing-editing-coaching-workshop services. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen News, Wadadli Pen Year by Year, Workshop

Reading Room and Gallery XVlll

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms (1, 11, 111, 1v, v, v1 , v11, v111, 1x, x, x1, x11, x111, x1v, xv, xvi, xvii), click the links or use the search feature to the right, to the right.

ON PUBLISHING

“#3 Not following guidelines.
Double check all guidelines before submitting to a magazine. Is there a word count requirement? Should your name be removed from the piece? Should your document be in Word, pdf, or rich text format? If it’s an email submission, do they want the document attached, or pasted into the body of the email? Do they accept simultaneous submissions? Don’t risk getting your piece being tossed out because you didn’t follow the rules.” – (here at Wadadli Pen I know this one well) – read the rest of the list of mistakes writers make when submitting.

CREATIVES ON CREATING

“My advice for young writers is to keep reading widely and for pleasure. And don’t get discouraged! So much of it is just mule-like persistence. That’s what I feel I learned this time around. There were many times when Swamplandia! failed and I had to pick it up and try and write it again. There were stories in my collection that were just duds, they’ve been voted off the island, and it was only because I had this material commitment to getting them out the door that I was willing to keep working at them. I really do think that’s the best advice—to keep at it.” – Karen Russell

***

“An interesting insight into the process came when the pair considered how they had arrived at rather different descriptions for the location of the windmill-giants – Jull Costa has them ‘on that same plain’, whereas Bush situates them ‘in the nearby field’. It transpired that, rather than seeking a literal translation of the Spanish ‘en aquel campo’, each had pictured what they read the original to mean and then found a way to render the image in English.” – Ann Morgan on dueling translations of Don Quixote

***

“Not only do I not see movies as I write, I can’t visualise, well, anything. At all. I don’t even dream in pictures. I have absolutely no concept of what it would be like to see things that no one else can see.” – Jo Eberhardt

***

“It happens too often that beginning fiction writers fail to give their characters jobs or occupations. Weak stories by beginning writers often feature adults who are wealthy without any discernible means of income or who perform the indiscernibly ambiguous task of “work.” Characters are described as working each day, but the reader is never told what they do or how their daily jobs affect them or their interactions with others. Characters do not earn money; they simply have it. There are no bills, no expenses, and, of course, no financial struggles.” – Amina Gautier

***

“So here you have a man at the beach, but he can’t enjoy it; he has to sit, because of his paranoia, with his back to the water, sitting in a chair; he wears a Hawaiian shirt but there’s a bullet proof vest under it; he likes a red wine spritzer but it tastes like Skittles which is very loaded…Trayvon Martin had a pack of Skittles.” – Rowan Ricardo Phillips, born in New York to Antiguan parents, reflecting on his poem News from the Muse of Not Guilty after a reading of the poem, from his collection Heaven, on CBC Radio.

***

“You start from building this world with their rules, and then you just follow logic in order to come up with the rest of the details. So once you have this simple fact that you’re treating couples in a certain way and single people in another way—and there’s a bit of a concept that this is almost like a prison drama or something, at least in the first half of the film—then you pick up on those things and you borrow things from other kinds of situations … We tried to get into the heads of people that would be in charge and what they would come up with.” – Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos on the making of his film The Lobster

***

Writing other…Mary Robinette Kowal provides some insight to culturally sensitive approaches to doing so.

***

“The second thing is reminding myself: You don’t have to write anything that you’re not deeply interested in. Every time I remember this, it’s a relief and a surprise.” – Rita Mae Reese on curing the affliction of not-writing.

****

“I use traditional women’s techniques, such as sewing, beading and applique. I incorporate found objects in my work; they are clues towards understanding my story and that of women in general.” – Heather Doram

***

“So much of what the filmmakers did in creating and then editing their work is what we writers strive for when polishing a manuscript: pinpoint the heart of the story and stay true to it, cut what can be lost, and always direct conflict and pacing.” – Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton w/ Elena Greene discuss The Lord of the Rings’ adaptation from book to film and what writers can learn from the choices the filmmakers made. It’s a five part series that begins, here.

***

A long form interview on the arts is a rare thing, especially in a Caribbean print publication, so kudos to Jamaica’s Observer for this series of poetry month features, this one spotlighting American Tim Tomlinson, co-founder of the New York Writers’ Workshop, in conversation with Jamaican-American poet and artist Jacqueline Bishop. Tomlinson’s book Yolanda, an Oral History in Verse, is focused on the Phillipines but his connection to the Caribbean – his time spent visiting and diving in various islands and countries but most especially the Bahamas is explored as well. Essentially, this interview is about both his journeying as a person and how that has informed his writing, how he creates, generally, and specifically in the case of Yolanda. W/thanks to Jacqueline Bishop for sharing, here have a slow as you sipping your iced tea kind of read:

Tim Tomlinson 1Tim Tomlinson 2Tim Tomlinson 3

***

“That was one of those magic moments. That came out pretty much whole cloth. Every now and then you ride the tiger. Most days the tiger rides me, but every now and then I ride the tiger. That’s my favorite chapter in the book. The opening chapter of The Given Day is another example. It’s my favorite chapter in The Given Day. It was written in two nights. It was rewritten extensively for prose, but it just came out.” – Dennis Lehane

***

“When I closed my eyes, I could smell flue-cured tobacco. I could feel the hot sun beating down on me. I could hear the southern accent of a teacher whose voice reminded me of poetry.” – Shannon Hitchcock on the inspiration for her book Ruby Lee & Me

VISUAL ART

Online gallery of Netherlands artist Marijke Buurlage.

***

***

Technically this is musical and literary art (lyrics) shared via a visual medium but that’s not the point. RIP, Prince.

***

“Nature is completely indifferent to the human endeavours whether they are good, evil, otherwise, whatever.” – Lori Landey and Beth Harris discussing Joseph Mallard William Turner’s Slave Ship

NON FICTION

“How many times over the years
I have explained
This.
Celie and her “prettier” sister Nettie
are practically identical.
They might be twins.
But Life has forced on Celie
all the hardships
Nettie mostly avoids…” – Is Celie actually Ugly? By Alice Walker

***

“Why, I asked my brother, did you like the film so much? So many messages. Look at the title. Everyone has problems underneath. Just because you are smart doesn’t mean u can work everything out yourself.” – Sejal Shah writing on Ordinary People

***

“You must read to develop a deeper understanding of literary elements, such as character arc, subtext, voice, and narrative distance.” – Chuck Sambuchino in his article The Pros and Cons of getting a Creative Writing MFA at Writer’s Digest

***

Kei Miller’s essay in this BBC piece resonates with me – it’s truthful and thoughtful and bold as so much of his writing is even when speaking of his tentativeness writing the issue of race -how our whiteness and blackness mediate our interactions. That said, I feel that same prickle of disagreement I feel stir in me whenever a black person, black writer (especially if they’re from colonized or formerly colonized places like I am) say, I didn’t know I was black until… because it’s not my truth (my blackness didn’t limit my sense of possibility but the reality is that, like class and other things, our blackness or shades of blackness was and remains a way of separating ourselves from ourselves) even in the predominantly black places I have lived (including Kei’s Jamaica). The Caribbean is not insulated from these issues, though they are not as starkly or sharply or consistently experienced in whiter places like the US and UK. Beyond my own experiences (some touched on in my February 2016 Essence article Mirror Mirror and issues of colourism/shade-ism explored in my book Musical Youth), this fairly recent memory comes to mind: being in a roomful of children of different shades of black, in a public child-friendly space, right here on our predominantly black island, only to have another adult, call out to one of the children, “black boy, black boy” with a tone and cadence that suggested “bad boy, bad boy” and to have him look up, in full acceptance of this (internalizing it). My aside aside, give the audio clip a listen; it’s a really engaging and touching reflection from one of the Caribbean’s best.

INTERVIEWS

“A writer always benefits from being a kind of outsider. That is why I try not to belong to anything too much. [Alienation] makes you an insider-outsider . . . sharpens [your] sense of observation. You look at things with detached eyes. Even some words. Pondering these English words with your Creole eyes. . . . There always is a sort of dialogue going on [within] most artists anyway. They just soak things in that they ultimately try to reproduce some other way. I think having this dual lens has been very helpful.” – Edwidge Dandicat

***

“Grounded in the realities of our history and geography, but unbounded in their imaginative possibilities” – Philip Sander describing the work of Nalo Hopkinson jumped out at me as the very thing I’ve been trying to define when I speak of a Caribbean aesthetic as a criterion for (but not a limitation of) Wadadli Pen submissions.

***

“Shorter doesn’t mean faster or easier! Short story writing is a very different art from that of the novel, from pacing to character development. So for a novelist, it can actually take longer and be more of a stretch to try her hand at writing a short story. A rewarding challenge, certainly, but definitely a challenge.” – Lauren Willig

***

“I remember myself as a young child, my mother had books inside here, and one of them dealt with the Haitian Revolution. I was ever so proud of Toussaint L’Ouverture. I was just proud. I mean, there he was, sitting in the same book with Napoleon and all of these other great men. So, for me, the Haitian Revolution was very significant. I don’t know how it is in popular memory, because right now everybody’s sorry for the Haitians—and “sorry for” in the sense of, “We’re better off” or “They can wear our old clothes.” So I don’t know about it in the popular memory. But certainly historically, Haiti served to frighten late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century governments. Frightening them, and as a matter of fact, had them even more repressive towards their black enslaved workers because their fear of Haiti was so strong. So, I don’t know that it has popular resonances, but certainly for nineteenth-century politics, it did.” – Erna Brodber interview at SX Salon, a Small Axe Literary Platform

***

“What’s interesting to me is that of the women who have read this, every single one thinks that it is absolutely sexy and totally horny. Then I was like, ‘oh, so this is erotica’. And I was reminded again that erotica does not need to be explicit. And, of course, what is erotic and what we find sexy and will respond to viscerally in that way is entirely subjective.” – Leone Ross

***

“The fiction writer in me likes gaps in stories because I can jump into that gap and try to suggest something.” – Marlon James’ Vogue interview

***

“There’s a place for everything…” – says Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne in this NIFCA interview:

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“To move past the ugly parts of history, you have to acknowledge them, on all sides, and this is what I think historical fiction can do so well: show how we got from there to here, but told through characters who see themselves not as history but as completely modern.” – Andrea Mullaney, author of The Ghost Marriage, 2012 Commonwealth Short Story winner for Canada and Europe

***

“The area where I spent my childhood years was surrounded my trees, and always seemed just on the edge of wilderness. That area has changed so much, but there is still that space in my imagination that’s the same…” – Danielle Boodoo Fortune, Woman of Colour interview

***

“What I’m trying to bring out is the power of words themselves, the power and musicality of words.” – Clifton Joseph

***

“Reading was such a sanctuary when I was a teenager, I wanted to see if I could tell a Jamaican story, a Caribbean story, that would interest even an urban teenager.” – Diana McCaulay re her new book Gone to Drift

FICTION

“In April of 1945, after facing only minimal resistance, Rhett was part of the Allied force that liberated a concentration camp named for the beech forests that surrounded it. The day was damp and overcast, with a heavy ground mist that sometimes hid the heaped bodies and sometimes revealed them. Living skeletons stood at the fences and outside the crematoriums, staring at the Americans. Some were horribly burned by white phosphorous.” – Cookie Jar by Stephen King

***

“In death, we live far more richly than we do in life. Our lives are pale shadows in which we are preoccupied with the business of living. It is in death that we take on nuance and colour. We seep through the floorboards of houses, spread out and nestle there. We whistle through windows, ruffle curtains and inhabit the minds and memories of others. We take on a resonance that only memory provides. We become deities. We become ancestors.” – from Ayanna Gillian Lloyd’s Walking in Lapeyrouse

***

“There was no rebuttal. She ended the call. From the decanter on side board, she poured herself a drink. The rum quelled the chill in her stomach — a chill reminiscent of rain-fly wings brushing against her skin. Where did they find him? They were hunting him for so long. Did he put up a fight? Errol had a point: There was really no need for her to kill him herself. But she wanted to.” – H. K. Williams’ Celeste in Moko

***

“They’ve taken you, in the rolling melody of their steps and song, to the river Aripo inside the forest, and when they sit and beckon you to come join them, their feet, you notice, are not as they’re supposed to be. It’s a peculiar thing to miss, really, backwards feet. You sense that your own feet have been treading air when they come into contact once again with the marshy forest floor. You look back into the bush where you think you came from, and you want to go home.”- Wenmimareba Klobah Collins

***

Edwidge Dandicat reads and discusses Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl and her own Wingless. And here’s Girl, so you can read along.

***

“My wife is happiest on Sunday afternoon, when I leave the house. We have been married five years – too soon for us to take pleasure in each other’s absence.” – from Radio Story by Anushka Jasraj – Commonwealth Short Story winner for Asia

***

“After years of working like a dog, clawing his way to fame and fortune—forfeiting family in the process—Desiree and the people of the island had broken down his mighty reserve and rewarded him with passion, friendship and the happiest times he’d ever experienced. He loved living in a place where everyone was aware of who he was, but not impressed or intimidated by what he had done. He admired the lack of social divides, that the Chief Minister played dominoes with ‘The People’, and that his best friend and “liming partner” was her cousin, and his Captain.” – Trudy Nixon’s Anguilla Boat Race, part of Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series

***

Mary Akers said about ‘Viewing Medusa’ after it had been posted at The Good Men Project: “For all you writers out there, this story’s publication is a testament to persistence. It won the Mary Mackey Short Story Prize, it was the story I submitted for my successful Bread Loaf waiter application, but for ten years, I tried unsuccessfully to get it published. I submitted it to 101 journals, 100 of whom rejected it before Matthew Salesses believed in it and brought it out into the world.” Here’s an excerpt from the story:  “I found myself unable to look away as she slurped her soup, dipping the pieces of dasheen in the broth and sucking them dry after each dip. When the soursop was served, she peeled away the bumpy green skin and slurped the fruit into her mouth, rolling it around until the smooth brown seeds were free, spitting them onto her plate. Soursop juice ran down her wrists and dripped off her elbows to the floor. I thought of Miss Connie, later, on her hands and knees, wiping up the stickiness while shaking her head at the lack of manners displayed by scientists.” – the voice/point of view and descriptions work well together to create a clear picture of the part of Dominica in which the story (which feels less fiction and more here’s how it happened) is set – the beauty and ruggedness in the landscape and the character of the people as compared with the visiting (presumably white) scientists, to create as well a certain mood of foreboding, and to suck the reader in…even if it spits that reader out the other end with questions, or rather one lingering question: so wait, she nar go do nutten? – Read the whole of Viewing Medusa here.

***

“The fuel tank was empty. He’d collapsed from sunstroke and dehydration. He’d been raving incoherently. When he finally recovered he’d lost all memory of where he’d left his men. A Lysander was sent out to look for them but nothing was ever found. The unforgiving maw of the Sahara had simply swallowed them up.” – Bully Beef and Biscuits by Guy Carter – this was the 2015 winner of the Mogford Prize for Food & Drink Writing

POETRY

“In Trinidad, everyone knows

the Pitch Lake but few have been

few have seen the dark and strange

surface, the vast dirt a mind of its own:

asphalt lake as constant as change.” – from La Brea. Read that and other poems by Andre Bagoo in Moko.

***

“No one sees my tears
wafting through the branch clusters
weeping airy patterns into the jungle silence.” – from Mangrove Armour by April Roach in Moko

***

“We read menacing messages in the scowls
of passers-by. Some circle around,
mark the territory with treads of footprints,
count down days to our departure.” – Camp by Althea Romeo-Mark in Moko

***

“…crushed lemongrass
overcooked tourist flesh sizzling in the noonday sun
barnacled, rusted boats off Devonshire Dock
my neighbour’s garbage ripped open by feral cats
overpriced perfume – from Trimingham’s, I think
‘mountain fresh’ detergent scent of laundry drying on the line
frying fish and sun-ripened fish guts
Baygon and stale beer
overripe cherries
Limacol and sweat..” – from Kim Dismont Robinson’s Scents of Bermuda: Or, All De Smells That Accosted My Nose One Day When Ahs Ridin My Bike From My Momma’s House on Norf Shore To My House in Smif’s Parish

***

‘In the roaring of the wolves the doctor said “Do you feel tenderness”
She was touching me’ – Niina Pollari, sharing and discussing her poem Do You Feel Tenderness

***

“There’ve always been Sunday mornings like this,
when God became young again
and looking back you see
that childhood was a Sunday morning.” – Kendel Hippolyte (Sunday) – be sure to also check out the Dunstan St. Omer Red Madonna that accompanies the poem.

BLOG

“I think I had a very different vision of myself when I was young, and definitely thought I’d have a family and be a loving parent by now. Instead I’ve birthed books” – Zetta Elliott

***

“Neglected authors fascinate me. While the particulars for their disregard may vary over time and from culture to culture, one thing remains constant: their perseverance despite official recognition. Such is the case of Eliot Bliss, a ‘white, Creole, and lesbian’ Jamaican novelist and poet whose collected poems have been resurrected by Michela A. Calderaro in Spring Evenings in Sterling Street.” Geoffrey Philp

***

“Getting to the place in yourself that is beyond influence is the radical edge.” – Brooke Warner

***

“…exploring a new space is a thing of wonder and an entirely individual experience…” – Sonia Farmer, blogging her Fresh Milk residency in Barbados

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Just Write

The Just Write Writers’ Retreat was held for the first time in 2012. I blogged about it here.

Location of the Just Write Writers' Retreat, the Catholic Retreat Centre at Mount Tabor.

Location of the Just Write Writers’ Retreat, the Catholic Retreat Centre at Mount Tabor.

A 2016 post-Retreat release reads in part:
‘The retreat’s organiser, Brenda Lee Browne is very happy: “This is the third Just Write Writers’ Retreat in Antigua and it is growing. It was a packed two days in a great setting and I cannot thank Joanne C. Hillhouse and Chadd Cumberbatch enough for being so generous with their time and sharing their vast knowledge with an eager group of writers.”

Joanne C. Hillhouse adds that: “Artists need space to create; not just physical space but mental space – a retreat like Mount Tabor provides both. It has the potential because of this to attract not only local writers but with proper support and promotion writers from other places. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it over the years and feel myself growing as a facilitator even as those I tutor grow in their strengths as writers.”

The participants attended workshops on ‘Editing’, ‘Poetry Writing and Performance’ and ‘Starting to write’’ READ the full report at Antigua Chronicle (which, sidebar, you may remember has a former Wadadli Pen winner as its editor and publisher)

Congrats to Just Write – writers, co-facilitators, founder Brenda Lee Browne, on another successful year.

Each year Just Write offers a spot to a winning Wadadli Pen writer. Tiffany Smith, front centre, has been one such prize recipient. I'm happy to announce that a spot at the next Just Write Writers' Retreat is part of the 2016 Challenge prize package. With thanks to founder of Just Write, Brenda Lee Browne.

Each year Just Write offers a spot to a winning Wadadli Pen writer. Tiffany Smith, front right, has been one such prize recipient. I’m happy to announce that a spot at the next Just Write Writers’ Retreat is part of the 2016 Challenge prize package. With thanks to founder of Just Write, Brenda Lee Browne.

For more on Just Write, go here.

Just Write Writers Retreat

Just Write, 2016.

For more on the Wadadli Pen 2016 Challenge season, go here.

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Dear You…Yes, You… Thank You!

Dear Wadadli Pen followers, supporters, stoppers-by…

Season’s Greetings and heart-felt gratitude for keeping up with us this year and all the years you’ve been coming here.

As you’ll see from this note, we are poised to enter the 2016 Challenge season and I have my fingers crossed that this coming year is the one we move beyond a labour of love to a bona fide non-profit with a team committed to keeping it going beyond my individual efforts and unwavering passion to do so.

I remain amazed that the challenge is still here 12 years on and that through this blog I’ve been able to build an online resource that has proven to be of value to demographics ranging from local educators and literary enthusiasts to international bloggers and researchers.

Already Wadadli Pen has moved beyond what I envisioned when I thought it up. And, as I’ve blogged parts of the journey, you know it hasn’t always been easy – it’s not easy while trying to work your own literary hustle to try to provide support to others; too often you feel like you’re failing at both but somehow you kick yourself in the ass and get up and try again…tomorrow.

I want to say that as far as Wadadli Pen is concerned this could not have been done without the support of those who’ve given money, gifts, and, perhaps most importantly, the gift of their time. Those who’ve provided the right words of encouragement at just the right time have also been invaluable to finding that will and energy to keep going. So, thank you, all.

I’m wishing you all the blessings you deserve in the new year.

If you still wish to support our journey in some way (donations to the upcoming challenge season, gifts, the gift of time, words of encouragement), please reach out to wadadlipen (at) yahoo.com and thank you in advance for your invaluable contribution to this project.

With gratitude,
Joanne
For Wadadli Pen

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Have a Seat: Jimmy Jam takes us to School

“We are all teachers in our own way” – Jimmy Jam (yes, that Jimmy Jam) – Believe it!

“If you’re going to build a business that’s about creators…No matter what the delivery system is…there’s got to be something to deliver; the creators are the people that make this stuff to deliver. So if you’re building a business that involves creators…please include the creators in what you’re doing.”

Jam, producer extraordinaire, that’s 5-time (just that?) Grammy Award winning producer, was speaking in 2013 at the Audio Engineering Society’s annual convention in New York. His was the opening keynote and its focus was his first hand experience of the impact of technology on the creative process.

This has been sitting in a folder on my hard drive for a couple of years and I found myself listening to it again the other day and deciding that it was worth sharing even two years down the road – and not just because I think Janet (Ms Jackson, if you’re nasty!) did her best stuff with them. Among other things, I like the points he makes about not throwing out the baby with the bathwater and doing something to preserve the knowledge that came before. I also agree with him about liner notes – something I reference here.

Here’s the link:


As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Editing Notes

“One way or another, you need to have your manuscript edited before you send it to an agent. That edit may come from your writing group (free) or from a talented writing friend who owes you a big fat favor (free), or it may come from an experienced editor, ideally one who’s worked as a professional book editor for a long time (not free)…a paid editor will think about grammar, syntax, main and secondary characters, theme, plot, character length, order of events, etcetera, and will hopefully point out some of your unfortunate tics….There’s no shame in hiring an editor either. The best of the best pay editors to improve their work….It doesn’t make a person less of an author; it doesn’t reduce your ownership of the text.” – Agent Advice column by Danielle Svetcov of Levine Greenberg Rostan in Poets & Writers May/June 2015

That said let me share some links of possible interest:

This link has some self-editing tips for those who can’t afford to hire an editor

Also for the self-editor but delving a bit deeper into story and structural points

Deeper still

…and some tutorials that should be useful when proofing

On this site, on the Opportunities Page, you’ll find links to a variety of opportunities including editing services mine and others, workshops, and more.

Anecdote: I like this client’s spirit. Everyone in her circle had told her the story was great but she still felt something wasn’t right. She’d participated in a couple of my workshops and, at the last minute, hit me up for an assignment that turned out to be part editing, part coaching, part critiquing…with the clock ticking down to her deadline. Editors can be buzzkills and I was; but it was what she’d signed up for when she approached me and honest guidance was what I owed her. The story did need work and figuring out what it would take to make it work was part of my challenge as editor. She took the feedback like a soldier and burned the midnight oil putting in the work. Whatever happens, it was a reminder to me about what I like about working with writers who want to make the work better and a reminder to both of us of the effort it takes beyond the burst of inspiration that births the story. It was at once challenging and exhilarating to move the story along. I felt it as the editor…and she felt it as the writer, too, I think (at least I’ve decided to take her tip – my first ever tip from a client – as evidence of that; and this after I gave her my writers’ discount).

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, DancingNude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you share this list, give credit; if you appreciate the service, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Reading Room XIV

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms, use the search feature to the right, to the right.

CREATIVES ON THE PROCESS

“Calypso provided lessons in how to play, teasingly, with language.” – Joanne C. Hillhouse

***

“These days, I meet far too many young writers who try to start off with a novel right off, or a trilogy, or even a nine-book series. That’s like starting in at rock climbing by tackling Mt. Everest. Short stories help you learn your craft. They are a good place for you to make the mistakes that every beginning writer is going to make. And they are still the best way for a young writer to break in…” – George R. R. Martin

***

“Be careful to stay consistently in one verb tense unless your narrator is a person who might switch tenses.” – Crawford Killian

***

“As I’m sure you know, Time is never a neutral, abstract thing. Nor merely a clock-ticking-on-the-mantlepiece thing. Time for writing your novel is time not for other occupations, not for other people. It’s time stolen from your loved ones; time they will probably resent you not devoting to them. Time is closing the door behind you and not answering when people knock – not unless they knock very hard, and shout words like ‘Fire’ and ‘Bastard’ and ‘I’m leaving – I really am’.” – Toby Litt

***

“I should be clear: there are plenty of times when the thought of reading my own story one more time makes me want to vomit.” – Max Barry

***

“I do think that as a society, even though my work is valued in the tertiary system as a text, writers are often seen as artists. And artists are often connected with entertainment, and seen as not scientific and not affecting evidence-based decisions.” – Oonya Kempadoo

***

I almost passed this one over because I’d never read Anne Lamott but there was too much good insight here to overlook…and now I want to add Lamott to my very long and ever growing reading list. Here’s Theo Pauline Nestor on things you can learn from reading Anne Lamott.

***

“One Wednesday night, while Pastor was telling us that blessings were five miles upstream so we should, like Enoch, wait on the Lord, I started reading Salman Rushdie’s “Shame,” hiding it in the leather Bible case. I had never read anything like it. It was like a hand grenade inside a tulip. Its prose was so audacious, its reality so unhinged, that you didn’t see at first how pointedly political and just plain furious it was. It made me realize that the present was something I could write my way out of. And so I started writing for the first time since college, but kept it quiet because none of it was holy.” – Marlon James

***

“But for those of us who are called to this craft, we know we must write. Because it’s true, your mother, father, brother, sister or cat could end up hating you, but if you don’t write, you’ll end up hating yourself. Ultimately, we write not for the world but for our own souls.” – Bushra Rehman

***

“This is how I know that the symbols we write and read about are as real as flesh, and are one of the only means of remembering ourselves and our personal and ancestral stories.” – Danielle Boodoo-Fortune. Read and see her Amazona and And Other Winged Creatures.

***

“We recognize, in their faces—in their actions—their fearlessness. They haven’t yet been anesthetized by the daily grind of adult life. They still think they have a puncher’s chance at beating everything.” Interesting post by Matthew McGevna, my co-panelist at the Brooklyn Book Festival, about the genesis of his book, Little Beasts. Read his full post.

***

***

“Editing can also lead to moments of humor. At some point, when two of my main characters, an older female scientist and a working mom who grow very close over the course of the book, clasped hands for something like the fifth time, I almost cried out with irritation, and wrote ‘There is way too much hand clasping in this book! Stop it!!’” – Kamy Wicoff

***

“You are not imagining it, my art has become darker over the last couple years. For so long my attitude was that I just wanted to paint upbeat, joyful images to increase the beauty in this world, and not dwell on negativity, which would just be feeding it.

At the time, that meant bright, vibrant, ‘sunny’ colours … sometimes I literally painted on yellow canvases.

But the times we live in have a dark undertone, and I am not immune to it. As artists, it is not just our nature, but our job to FEEL, and to be a channel – through our art – to make others FEEL.” – Donna Grandin

POETRY

“How could his daily toil
of hammer, saw and nails;
an old lady’s reckoning
of last month’s window
against the patching
of her roof this week —
how could her life of sacrifice
and his of labour, sweat
and boiling sun
be totalled up
in this small word?” – Word (on teaching an adult male to read) by Esther Phillips

***

“She was stabbed in a bar in Kingston.
Only men attended her funeral, extra drunk.” – Ishion Hutchinson, Prudence from Far District

***

“There’ve always been Sunday mornings like this,
when God became young again
and looking back you see
that childhood was a Sunday morning.” – Kendel Hippolyte, Sunday

***

“And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:” – Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

***

“…the beach say, This him. John Goodman
he name, originally Jean-Paul Delattre,
brother of Stephen Dillet, first coloured man

in Parliament. Come here on a boat
from Haiti back then, back again,…” – Goodman’s Bay ll by Christian Campbell

***

“…their lines uneven, their slow step out of sync
marching with wrinkled faces to commemorate
a war they didn’t start, majesty’s ship that didn’t sink
distended necks show a conceited attitude

for having served mother England.” – from Memorial Day by Reuel Lewi

VISUAL

DSCN4639

Danielle Boodoo Fortune working on a mural project in Trinidad… when I bookmarked this a while ago, my note to myself was why can’t we have something like this in Antigua… turns out, we do, sort of; check out the Antigua Graffiti series.

***

Heather's image

Heather Doram’s Rootedness and other art pieces from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Canada, showed during the Pan Am Games, featured in this showing at the Textile Museum of Canada. See all the pieces here.

***

i want

This beautiful painting (I want it soooo bad) is Gardener of Small Joys, 2015 by Danielle Boodoo-Fortune (artist). Danielle is a Trinidadian-Tobagonian artist (and a Wadadli Pen ally having served as a judge in 2014 and 2015); she is superbly talented in both the visual and literary medium. Here’s a link to her work. And to a review of her work in the Arc.

***

The film Ah! Hard Rain is the story of a fishing village struggling to survive due to over fishing by huge trawlers from, Europe, China, etc. The film sponsored this special performance at the British Museum, on Saturday 15th August, 2015 by providing two of the amazing Moko Jumbie performers, all the way from Trinidad & Tobago, who feature in the soon to be released film Ah! Hard Rain. Photo is from the Ah! Hard Rain facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AhHardRain

The film Ah! Hard Rain is the story of a fishing village struggling to survive due to over fishing by huge trawlers from, Europe, China, etc. The film sponsored this special performance at the British Museum, on Saturday 15th August, 2015 by providing two of the amazing Moko Jumbie performers, all the way from Trinidad & Tobago, who feature in the soon to be released film Ah! Hard Rain. Photo is from the Ah! Hard Rain facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AhHardRain

INTERVIEWS

w/John R. Lee:

“…how the literature has developed through personages and work, I’ve always been conscious of that; I’ve always been conscious of the cultural context of our literature and our arts…”

***

w/?uestlove:

“I don’t mourn the bad, I don’t celebrate the good, I just walk forward.”

***

w/Attica Locke:

“We exist in the middle: We’re not demons or angels — we’re human beings. And so that is what needs to be reflected in the art of our nation.”

***

w/Anne Germanacos:

“As writers, we live double lives: lived once in the world of others, and again, in the quiet of our own minds. It takes a certain amount of will and courage to leave with regularity the circle of humanity in order to enact a kind of theft, which is one aspect of what the writing life seems to be.”

***

w/Diana King:

“As for me, I just was not the type of Jamaican singer that was ‘hype’ at the time so no attention or encouragement was given. Dreams can die like this.”

***

w/Marlon James:

“Of course I’m intimidated, but I’m also protected by social and artistic privilege. You can be immune if you’re a Rex Nettleford, or a rich gay dude, but for a poor or middle class person, not so much. And nobody is ever really immune. Gay men are still getting shot in the face in New York, there is still too much stigma against HIV for no reason. Job discrimination. Some stores want a legal right to discriminate. It isn’t over.”

***

w/Justin ‘Jus Bus’ Nation:

“I think that if we help to support this type of creative behaviour, musically and artistically, our culture in the music and arts sector can evolve greatly. A lot of people get discouraged because from a young age they are being told that they can’t succeed at their dream because it’s not the normal doctor or dentist stereotypical job that their parents see fit for sustainable income. If the government and more people took it seriously and equally took risks and chances then an infrastructure could be made for year-round arts and music on a more realistic economic level for people – instead of this fairytale, ‘movie star’ illusion that’s being fed to young kids through TV and internet.”

***

w/Yiyun Li:

“I used to keep this journal…and I knew my mother would read my journal (so) my journal was just negative space; so if there was a bird, I would not say there was a bird – I would describe the cloud around, trees, skies, just leaving a blank space of the bird. So if my mother read it, she would not see the bird.”

***

w/Joanne C. Hillhouse:

“The analogy in my head is like I’m driving down a lane, a bumpy lane like so many of the off roads in Antigua, and I’ve never been on that road before and there’s a bend and I don’t know what’s around the bend but I want to find out so I keep going, even though it’s a little bit scary…”

***

w/Diane Chamberlain:

“I wish someone had told the very young me that good writing is the ticket to success in nearly everything. I didn’t learn that until my junior year of high school when a history teacher taught us how to research and organize our essays and term papers. Suddenly, I realized I could use my writing skills in every subject (except math, unfortunately). My grades soared. It’s those skills that got me through college and graduate school, and it’s those skills I still use today as I outline and work on my books. We can do our young people a big favor by helping them learn to write well.”

***

w/Jamaica Kincaid:

“More immediately, I’m trying to earn a living in the way that is most enjoyable to me. I love the world of literature, and I hope to support myself in it. I come from the small island of Antigua and I always wanted to write; I just didn’t know that it was possible. I would pretend when I was a child that I was Charlotte Brontë, because I’d read Jane Eyre when I was ten and, although I didn’t understand it, I loved the idea that this woman had written a book. I wanted to be her.”

***

w/Jamaica Kincaid:

“I was up all night long, working on a sentence,” she said. She hadn’t finished it yet.

***

w/Michael Anthony:

“I realized I liked words, the sound of words” – Listen to the full interview 

***

w/Colin Farrell …yes, that Colin Farrell…Colin is officially the first Hollywood actor in the Wadadli Pen Reading Room…as if Hollywood actors need more publicity, right?…But whatever, I like this interview and love his accent…no apologies….besides it’s always interesting hearing artists, from any area of the arts, talking about their craft…and always refreshing to see the ways in which their journey and sensibility is not that foreign from your own:

Interviewer: Was that the last time that you were on stage?
Colin Farrell: …other than struggling to be myself on things like this.

***

w/Oonya Kempadoo:

What’s the best advice on writing you ever received? “Just write.”

***

w/John Robert Lee:

“Firstly, more creative arts education programmes are needed at all levels of our education system. The arts will evolve when young people come to a better, informed understanding of the arts. This education also creates an audience for the arts, an audience that is informed, understands what is being presented to them, and so they are better able to appreciate and evaluate creative arts.”

***

w/Tamara Ellis Smith:

“Well, the idea for Hurricane came when my son — who was four at the time — asked me from the back seat of the car, ‘Who is going to get my pants?’

This was August 2005, and we were driving a few bags of clothing and food to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort. What a great question! Of course I didn’t know, but I began to imagine who would get his pants — and then I began to actually IMAGINE who would get his pants. And I was off and running . . .”

STORIES

“But it’s getting weird lately; some nights as he rocks on top of me, I start to imagine that I’m Her…” – Starfish by Randy Triant

***

“He always cooked his pepper pot on their Oh Gad, claiming coal fire gave a better flavor, but Nora knew that it wasn’t the fire that made the dish unforgettable, it was him. It was the way they would sit on the veranda, with a bowl of the aromatic stew and listen to him recount the tales of his youth, stories of climbing mango trees and oil pan cook out by the dam. Of adventures in the sugar cane fields, and of jumbi, and sokuna and all the things that made up the lore of the country side. All their legends told in his base voice, punctuated by belly laughs and mouthfuls of pepper pot.” – The Grave Digger’s Wife by Random_Michelle (Michelle Toussaint)

***

“Legend states that the Moss is a creature hatched from a chicken egg layed on Good Friday after three months of incubation. The egg is placed under the arm of the person wishing for the Moss and has to stay there until the three months have passed. Once it begins to hatch, at the moment it emerges from the shell, one must say: ‘Mweh seh mette ou’ (I am your master) before it can say it to you, needless to say what happens if you fail. If you accomplish this then the Moss is charged to fulfill your every desire not unlike the Djinns of Persia. However it seems that a Moss comes with a terrible price…” – Glen Toussaint, Tale of the Moss.  Read more.

***

“He is taking the back way to town so that he can look at this man’s corn and consider the way in which his corn looks better.” – listen to Austin Smith’s Friday Nigh Fish Fry

***

“Outside, I see a million butterflies flitting about in the golden sunlight. He once told me that there’s a place in Kingston where, in butterfly season, you can see them falling out of trees like golden rain. We’d made plans to marry beneath one of those trees. But those plans, like Isaiah, have all disappeared. Suddenly, an image of Peter and Denise appears before me, the money they have promised me for one night.” – Read all of Sharon Leach’s Sugar.

***

“Miss lady house burn down, everybody outside. Not even the moon out but everybody out.” – Read all of Glen Toussaint’s Is Obeah dat burn down di house or Goat Mout!?

WRITERS ON PUBLISHING

The only part of this Andrew Lowe article I didn’t like was “He said no. Something about how he never allows his images to be used for commercial reasons.” which, to me, felt vaguely dismissive/mocking of the photographer’s choice but overall I thought it was an interesting and insightful take on the process of cover design… something, incidentally, we’ve tried to tackle with the Wadadli Pen Challenge.

***

If you’re out here freelancing, this article actually has a lot of stuff I’ve tried and continue to try …with mixed results.

***

“Build relationships with your readers as best you can. Building a loyal following of readers who are willing to pay for your books is your most effective way of personally combating piracy.” – if you’ve written and been published, chances are you’ve come across some site purporting to offer your book for free at some point. As with any theft, it feels like a violation…and it’s cutting in to your royalties. This article provides tips for writers on dealing with piracy.

***

“I thought back over the many interactions I’d had with agents – all but two of them white – before I landed with mine. The ones that said they loved my writing but didn’t connect with the character, the ones that didn’t think my book would be marketable even though it was already accepted at a major publishing house. Thought about the ones that wanted me to delete moments when a character of color gets mean looks from white people because “that doesn’t happen anymore” and the white magazine editor who lectured me on how I’d gotten my own culture wrong. My friends all have the same stories of whitewashed covers and constant sparring with the many micro and mega-aggressions of the publishing industry.” –  on Diversity is not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing

NON FICTION

“After colossal effort and countless attempts to acclimate myself to them, I focused on changing my way of seeing them. I pulled the curtain from the other side and started to explore the depths of their world. It took me a while, but I came to the conclusion that criminals laugh, too”. – from 1000 Lashes Because I Say What I Think by Raif Badawi. Translated by Ahmed Danny Ramadan. Read more.

***

“When I was a little girl I was sent to mass every Sunday, but I did not pay much attention to the mass, which was mostly in Latin.  My interest was drawn to the ceiling of the church where there were hundreds of paintings of pink-faced cherubs, angels and saints. There was not one black face on that ceiling!  I deduced that black people did not go to Heaven. I was a child, how was I to know that those paintings were some artist’s depiction of The Great Beyond?” – Daisy Holder Lafond, I could have been a terrorist

***

Storytelling by Jamaica Kincaid, Josh Axelrad, and Sebastian Junger from the Moth Radio series: link.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad!, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. And using any creative work without crediting the creator will open you up to legal action. Respect copyright.

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The Backspace Key

The backspace key is not always a writer’s friend…scribble, cross out, crumple, uncrease, see with fresh eyes that maybe what last night looked like rot is salvageable after all with a little trimming. In short, you need those rough drafts to get to the smooth.

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More Wadadli Pen post…the judging continues

The Wadadli Pen judges are deliberating. One of the challenges, they’re up against considering this is a 200 words or less challenge is how to deal with stories that don’t follow the rules. There are really only two rules this year. One is the word count. Usually, word count, previously 600 words, is more of a guide than a rule. Though time and resource constraints compelled me to streamline this year’s Challenge, the reduction is more than a gambit to make a more manageable pool of entries (we also reduced the number of entries from as much as three to only one per person) but to help the writers fine tune their writing muscles by challenging them to get to the core of the story.

The second rule, that the stories be Caribbean-centric has (by any other name) been a staple of Wadadli Pen since it was launched in 2004. It is not a rule meant to limit but to ground the stories. Because, here’s the thing, whether romance or sci fi or fantasy or action or farce, the stories we ingest on film, in music, on TV, in books are informed, however subconsciously, by our culture as much as our imagination. What we know becomes a reference point for what we create, even in the seemingly borderless landscape of our own mind.

Think about it, a lot of what is considered fantasy (a genre I find infinitely fascinating) is heavily shaded by an anglo, western, often male, often white perspective. Before I started Wadadli Pen, when I would judge local writing competitions, read stories by fledgling Antiguan writers, there was a certain troubling pattern in the stories I would read – and this pattern helped inform my direction with Wadadli Pen. The writers’ reality was often absent from their imagination; their characters, how they looked, how they talked etc. defaulted to an aesthetic more reflective of Walt Disney’s imagination than their own. The stories they wrote were the stories they saw, not the stories they lived.

This is not to say that a writer can’t write Other if so compelled but there is something troubling about the instinct to centre Other, even in your own imagination, nine times out of 10. It is reflective of the ongoing colonization of the mind, the impulse to still define ourselves outside-in, instead of inside-in. Through no fault of our own really considering our collective history and the reality that most of the arts and entertainment popular in our world is not our own.

But if art is at least in part about rebelling against what has been prescribed for us, I wanted to challenge us to look within for our stories, within our world, within our reality, within ourselves. I wanted us to see that we, too, could be at the Centre of our own stories, our lives could be the stuff of our own fantasies.

The flipside, of course, is those stories that paint the Caribbean in broad, clichéd, stereotypical strokes – stories in which every Caribbean mother, Caribbean man, Caribbean child, Caribbean neighbourhood is of a certain type, stories in which all the characters speak raw back, as we would say in Antigua, whether it’s consistent with context or characterization. I remember one young man writing to me that he wouldn’t be entering Wadadli Pen because he didn’t write Caribbean stories, and I am convinced it’s because his idea of Caribbean stories is limited to these narrow, un-nuanced portrayals. I wish he had challenged himself to attempt a different model. Because that’s what we want, stories that are grounded in the Caribbean yes but break with the traditions, stories daring enough to take wild flights of … fantasy.

So in addition to craft and word count, this is something that has to be at the back of the judges’ mind as they assess this year’s entries.

The #diversitymatters campaign in children’s publishing is, as I see it, about unlocking the shackles not just on the industry (by reminding it that there are other races, genders, cultures etc.) but on the imagination; it’s about underscoring that all stories matter, that your stories matter, because if you exist, you matter. And when a young boy or girl’s image of a princess no longer defaults to snow white skin and ruby red lips, when they can begin to see themselves in that princess, by default, and see maybe that that princess doesn’t have to live in a British style palace, that that princess can even live in the sunshine, maybe the need for correctives like #diversitymatters and the Caribbean-centric Wadadli Pen rule won’t be necessary. Until then…

2014 winning art piece created by Alvin Livingstone.

2014 winning art piece created by Alvin Livingstone.

Wadadli Pen – When all is said and (Almost) one

Wadadli Pen Winners Through the Years – Story Links

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad! and Burt Award finalist Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Wadadli PEN 2015, Wadadli Pen News, Workshop

Musical Youth launched…and some other stuff happened :-)

turnout

I launched my latest book Musical Youth with a reading, November 21st, at the Best of Books.

It was a treat for me to be able to include some of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge finalists in that event, merging my literary activities with my literary advocacy. I enjoyed hearing them read. Here are some highlights:

Asha Graham, who took the main prize in both 2013 and 2014, read from her most recent winning piece LaJabless (use the search feature to the right to read it if you haven't yet and would like to).

Asha Graham, who took the main prize in both 2013 and 2014, read from her most recent winning piece LaJabless (use the search feature to the right to read it if you haven’t yet and would like to).

Alexandra Spence was an honourable mention in the 18 to 35 category of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge. She read her story Why did I get Punished? At the launch, and received a copy of my book Musical Youth as a token of my thanks. (Read her story by using the search feature to the right).

Alexandra Spence was an honourable mention in the 18 to 35 category of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge. She read her story Why did I get Punished? At the launch, and received a copy of my book Musical Youth as a token of my thanks. (Read her story by using the search feature to the right).

CODE, publisher Caribbean Reads, and me contributed copies of Musical Youth to the Public Library; here I am presenting those copies to the library representative.

CODE, publisher Caribbean Reads, and me contributed copies of Musical Youth to the Public Library; here I am presenting those copies to the library representative.

Here I am reading…so cool to have this image of me reading from my latest book Musical Youth while standing under a banner of one of my other books Oh Gad!

Here I am reading…so cool to have this image of me reading from my latest book Musical Youth while standing under a banner of one of my other books Oh Gad!

And here I am signing copies for readers like local attorney E. Ann Henry.

And here I am signing copies for readers like local attorney E. Ann Henry.

All in all, it was a wet but good night…big thanks to all who came out.

All in all, it was a wet but good night…big thanks to all who came out.

I want to say thanks to the Best of Books, the Public Library, and audience members like Kimolisa Mings for the pictures; thanks to Best of Books for hosting, Glen Toussaint for MC-ing and Wadadli Pen alums Margaret Irish, Asha Graham, and Alexandra Spence for participating. I want to say thanks to everyone who came out…was especially happy to see my Cushion Club folks and to give them and the library copies of the book…and floored by a personal written thank you from one of my former Cushion Club kids, not a kid anymore, now a young lady striding toward her dreams and giving me way too much credit for any part in that (though I am happy if I’ve had any sort of positive influence on her journey).

With my Cushion Club folks. The Cushion Club reading club for kids meets Saturdays at the University Centre between 10:30 a.m. and 12 noon.

With my Cushion Club folks. The Cushion Club reading club for kids meets Saturdays at the University Centre between 10:30 a.m. and 12 noon.

I just want to add that the night before the launch I was awarded the 2014 Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Award. And the day after the launch I had the opportunity to lead two days of CODE sponsored workshop; perfect bookends to a literary highlight. I didn’t see the award coming and the workshop went better than I’d dared hope. I am thankful for both. And I am so thrilled at the release of this book which placed second earlier this year for the inaugural BURT award for Young Adult Caribbean Literature, a prize sponsored by CODE which is a Canadian non-profit. Musical Youth – which begs the question “Can one summer make the difference of a lifetime?” – is published by CaribbeanReads Publishing. CaribbeanReads has also just released Round My Christmas Tree, a seasonal anthology, featuring writers from around the region including, from Antigua, me and Carel Hodge. Give T’anks.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, and Oh Gad!).  All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen News, Workshop